Armistead wins age group in Utah 

Whistler runner places eighth overall at Zion 100 Ultra Marathon

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - DIVISION WIN Peter Armistead captured the mens 45-to-49 age group at the Zion 100 in Utah on April 12 and 13.
  • Photo submitted
  • DIVISION WIN Peter Armistead captured the men<0x2019>s 45-to-49 age group at the Zion 100 in Utah on April 12 and 13.

Whistler ultra-runner Peter Armistead posted an outstanding result at Utah's Zion 100, but admittedly, he didn't know quite how excellent until a day later.

After being the eighth runner across the line in the 100-mile (160-kilometre) contest with a time of 22 hours, eight minutes and 43.9 seconds (22:08:43.9), Armistead was also the top finisher in the men's 45-to-49 age group in the race that ended on April 13.

"My wife actually told me," Armistead said with a laugh. "Getting a win was absolutely brilliant, I'm over the moon."

The 46-year-old, who is originally from the United Kingdom, had never been to Utah before, but after hearing from friends and doing his homework, he quickly learned what he was in for.

"I'd done my research and knew what it was going to be like. You're racing in a desert and canyons. I knew that there wasn't a lot of elevation, but that the terrain ... was a bit tricky to run on," he said. "There was lots of slick rock and lots of roots, which made it fairly unrunnable, even though it was quite flat."

An additional challenge for Armistead was that he competed solo, whereas he usually travels with his wife, a crew or a pacer. Having that need for self-sufficiency altered Armistead's approach to the race.

"Being by myself, I was very, very clinical about everything. I didn't have many ups and downs," he said. "If you're by yourself and you get down in a bad mood, you really need to be on your game, basically, or else it could end your race.

"I took things slower than I normally would. I deliberately went out very, very slow in this particular race. I think within the first hour, 60 people overtook me, which was a bizarre experience."

From there, Armistead settled into a slow and calm groove, and by halfway through the race, had put himself into the top 10, a placement he maintained the rest of the way.

Another offshoot of racing on his own is that coach Gary Robbins suggested that Armistead leave drop bags at every aid station to prepare for worst-case scenarios. While one didn't make it to where it was supposed to be, the camaraderie of the ultra-running community shone through.

"I wanted to do my various things—change my socks and put some lube on. I just stood there and there was nothing for me," he said, "but it was all good. We worked it out on the spot. There were other people there and I just said, 'I've not got a drop bag. Can anyone help me out?'

"A couple people stood up and sorted me out for a few minutes, so it was fine in the end."

Under the watchful eyes of Robbins and co-coach Eric Carter, Armistead prepared for the early-season race in brutal outdoor conditions and on the treadmill.

"It's always hard, and we had a long, cold winter in Whistler," he said. "I just had to really get my head down. I must admit it's not been the most enjoyable few weeks of running but I'm a very goal-focused person.

"When I went into the race, I was in absolutely as good of shape as I could be in."

Armistead, who completed the Rio Del Lago 100 in California last November, said the Zion 100 was his first race for charity. He ran in support of Operation Smile, which performs facial reconstructive surgery for children in developing nations.

As of April 15, he had raised nearly $1,900, though Armistead pledged that since he completed the race in under 24 hours, he'd match the total.

There is still time to donate at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/peter-armistead2.

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